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Senate Moves To Probe Firs, Npa, Customs Over Alleged Misuse Of Funds

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SAN FRANCISCO, November 29, (THEWILL)The Senate has resolved to investigate all revenue generating agencies including the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Customs Service and others from 2012 to 2016, over alleged misuse, under remittance and other fraudulent practices in the collection and accounting of internally generated revenue by the agencies.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Senator Solomon Adeola (Lagos West) who noted that Section 80, subsection 1-4 of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly stipulated that all revenue, moneys raised or received shall be paid into and form on consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

He asked the Senate to constitute a high powered ad-hoc committee to investigate the alleged fraudulent practices by the revenue generating agencies further noting that the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 was enacted to ensure transparency, accountability and prevent corrupt practices in relation to public revenues and expenditure.

Adeola said that he is also aware that at the last National Economic Council meeting, the Federal Government specifically accused  revenue generating agencies of raising over N1.5 trillion and expending over 90 per cent on recurrent expenditure mostly in paying bloated salaries and controversial allowances above Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Committee, monetization of medical allowances, unapproved overseas travels, lavish training allowances and excessive personal loan approval all amounting to financial misconducts.

He added said that he is disturbed that various audit queries against the agencies over the years further indicated possible mismanagement of public funds against the spirit of the Constitution and Fiscal Responsibility noting that the agencies are continuing in short changing government of needed revenue through various illegal practices.

Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in his contribution noted that most Nigerians were concerned about how to share the cake without bothering about how to bake the cake declaring that it is time for the Senate to take a second look at the law regulating activities of the revenue generating agencies to determine whether there was need to review the laws in order to bloc leakages.

Before the prayer to set up a committee to probe the alleged misuse of funds by agencies was unanimously adopted, Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, emphasised the importance of independent revenue to the economic health of the country noting that if the Senate was able to block leakages in the agencies, it would help the funding and performance of the 2017 budget.

“I want to join others in thanking Senator Solomon Adeola for this very important motion,” he said.

“As I keep on harming on our independent revenue and non-oil revenue is a very important area of our budget. This independent revenue is 37 percent; you remember last year it was almost N1.5 trillion and am being told now that this year is likely to come down to N500 billion because they could not meet the target.

“Inability to meet the target is not that they don't have the capacity to meet the target and there is too much abuse on this operating surpluses where people spend right up to the last naira in all. I think the best way forward as you said it would even help the 2017 budget if we address this issue in blocking this leakages and I believe that in constituting the ad-hoc committee we would just take the best hands and still bring people from finance and public accounts and capable people who would be able to address this.”

The senate unanimously set up a six-member panel of investigators, to be headed by Adeola, with a mandate to submit its report to Senate in plenary in six weeks.

Story by Oputah David